NOTICE: I am a practicing Catholic, active and in good-standing with my local parish, who professes faith and loyalty to the Church. This ministry - my "little work" - is strictly a personal expression of that faith and loyalty, and not an officially recognized ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.

~ Peter, Ministry & Blog Administrator

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Sojourn in the Desert

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was
led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days
he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during
those days, and at the end of them he was hungry."

‐ Matthew 4:1-2

The Lenten Season is always an intense and meaningful time for me and I think it's the reason why I had another vivid dream, which haunted me for several days.  It happened last week but I only recently decided to put it down on paper because of how impressed I was by it.  The drawing below, which I call "Sojourn in the Desert", is the end result.

So in my dream I found myself immersed in a desert.  It was night time but the light of the moon was unusually bright and I could clearly see the rocky landscape (it reminded of the Grand Canyon). Wandering around for a bit I came upon a wide ravine and an amazing sight...

There, ahead of me, was a large cat.  It was definitely a lion but with a weird-looking mane, which to me, looked too short. Behind the animal was a man leaning against a few boulders and I sensed almost immediately it was our Lord... and he looked haggard.

Poor Jesus - he was fast asleep and looking so lean; I heard him lightly snoring, too!  I was saddened because I could see that he was obviously weak and exhausted; worn out.  On his head, covering his brow, was a cloak that flowed down and wrapped tightly around his body so it must've been chilly although I couldn't feel the cold.  At that very moment, seeing Christ this way gave me a solid visual of how human he truly was; how, despite being Divine, he didn't exempt himself from any of the physical weaknesses and discomforts the rest of us mortals are subjected to: hunger, fatigue, cold, snoring, etc.  It was also somehow endearing.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all
points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

... but what made this dream especially intriguing for me was not just the imagery of the Lord fasting in the desert, which I'm already familiar with... rather, it was the lion.  I know Jesus is referred to as the "Lion of Judah" because of Revelation 5:5 and Mark 1:12-13 mentions him as being "among wild beasts" in the wilderness... but I've never read or heard anything specific - anywhere - about an actual lion keeping him close company in the desert.  Where in the maze of my brain did that come from?  What was it supposed to symbolize, if anything?

Furthermore, although the lion looked quite formidable, it showed no signs of aggression.  Instead, it just lay quietly beside Jesus - like an oversized pet kitty - in direct physical contact with his legs.  Based on my observations, I speculate that the lion was really keeping Christ warm, as well as, watching over him as he slept.  After thinking about it over and over, it kinda made sense, considering all the potential dangers lurking in the wilderness: venomous scorpions and snakes; bandits; and even other lions.  A lion would make for an ideal guard animal in Jesus' situation.

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me.

– Psalm 3:5

Incidentally, I did online research, afterwards, about lions in the Middle East and discovered there was a species of big cat - the Asiatic Lion - that is still found there... and guess what?  Male Asiatic Lions have a physical trait that distinguishes them from their African counterparts - shorter manes... like Jesus' furry bodyguard in the desert!  Now that's what I call uncanny.

The Asiatic Lion - note its short, sparse-looking mane compared to the
African Lion (inset), which is a more familiar image of the big cat.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Light of Lourdes

The oddest things can inadvertently get captured on live webcams; sometimes things that don't have an easy explanation. The amazing photos on this particular blog may just be an example of this phenomena. I did not take the pics myself, but a brother-in-Christ did, and he shared them with me to get my opinion on them.  I truly believe they're a genuine sign and, because the pics and the backstory are so inspiring, I felt the need to share them.

So just a bit of background concerning these photos - the man who took them ("Albert") is a personal friend who frequents Mass; is a strong devotee of the Blessed Virgin and St. Michael the Archangel; and a daily Rosary / Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer warrior. I recently introduced him to the Lourdes Shrine's live webcam - accessible in YouTube - and he's taken to doing his daily round of prayers every morning, while viewing the grotto of Our Lady's apparitions.

About a week ago, while praying the Rosary, Albert was surprised to witness the sudden and unexpected appearance of golden orbs of light "swirling" around in front of the statue in the upper niche of the Sacred Grotto (the exact spot where the Holy Virgin stood in her 18 appearances to St. Bernadette). He counted three large globes, which he said intermittently faded and reappeared throughout his prayer... and moved about too!  Below is a cellphone photo Albert snapped of his TV screen.  It's impressive and beautiful... and the story doesn't end there.

Two large golden orbs are captured in this photo.  Compare this pic to the
last image at the very bottom to see how truly unusual this is.

A few days after... again, while praying the Rosary, Albert saw another manifestation of light, which was more astounding than the first incident. According to the man, he was on the 5th Luminous Mystery, meditating on the Institution of the Eucharist, when he saw the grotto's crucifix begin to "sparkle" brightly before radiating streams of light down upon the altar... and significantly, the lights were reddish and bluish - the colors of Divine Mercy!  If that weren't enough, orbs of light again appeared and moved around in front of Our Lady's statue.  The entire manifestation lasted until the end of the Rosary and, fortunately for us, Albert had the presence of mind to take more pics, which he texted to me soon after - see them below.  Again, they're clear and beautiful!

Light can be seen in these photos emanating from the crucifix.

In these close‐up shots, the red and bluish lights are clearer.

In the photos below, orbs of light are also captured as they descend
to the hallowed niche where Our Lady once stood.

I frequently view the same Lourdes livecam at different times of the day and I've never seen anything like this before, nor any sort of solar lens flare on the camera, so I know the pics are not due to sunlight... and how appropriate is the light - representing the Precious Blood and Water - streaming from the crucifix to the altar at exactly the same moment Albert was contemplating the Lord's gift to us of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist?

I'm convinced these events are a sign from Jesus and Mary to Albert; special affirmation he's on a good spiritual path and should continue walking it.  Plus, Lourdes is a place well-known for miracles so why couldn't this be possible?  I'm glad Albert shared his experiences because not only is it extraordinary, but there's an underlying message in the pics for all of us, too, especially the illuminated crucifix photos.  As I like to say at times: pictures are sometimes worth a thousand words.

A screenshot of what the Holy Grotto usually looks like on the live
webcam (that's a priest in the grotto entrance, not Our Lady).

... and I almost forgot to mention one final and  important detail - Albert also told me that when the crucifix began streaming light, he touched its image on the television and immediately felt a mild "shock" flow into his hand then throughout his entire body, which left him elated with JOY.  He was still very excited when he later described it to me over a phone call - he said it felt as though Jesus had "moved" through him.  Amen.

For those reading who'd like to access the Lourdes Shrine webcam,
you can do so by clicking here.

Monthly Message of the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: February 25th, 2021

   "Dear children! God has permitted me to be with you also today, to call you to prayer and fasting. Live this time of grace and be witnesses of hope, because I repeat to you, little children, that with prayer and fasting also wars can be suppressed. Little children, believe and live this time of grace in faith and with faith; and my Immaculate Heart does not leave any of you in peacelessness if you have recourse to me. I intercede for you before the Most High and I pray for peace in your hearts and for hope for the future.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Why, St. Michael?

My admiration for St. Michael the Archangel has grown significantly since the start of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic last year.  Besides taking the necessary health precautions recommended by the CDC - quarantining, mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, social distancing, etc. - I also take "spiritual precautions", which includes carrying a theca (round reliquary case) containing small stones from St. Michael's Cave/Grotto on Mt. Gargano in Italy.  Since doing so, I've experienced manifestations of the Archangel's presence, which I sense have broader implications than for just me, alone - one was a remarkable dream last November that I interpreted to be a warning of some sort... while the other involved the cave stones.

The interior of the Sacred Grotto of St. Michael 
the Archangel atop Mt. Gargano, Italy.

For those not familiar with the history of this singular grotto, it's the hallowed site of a series of Church-approved apparitions of St. Michael beginning in 490 AD.  At the very first appearance, the Archangel showed himself to the local Bishop and claimed possession of the cave with these words:

"I am the Archangel Michael and I am always
in the presence of God.  The cave is sacred to me.
I have chosen it."

When the bubonic plague ravaged the region in 1656, the people had recourse to the great Archangel while doing public penance.  In response, St. Michael returned and directed the current bishop to distribute stones taken from within his cave, marked with crosses and the initials "M.A." (for "Michael Archangel").  St. Michael added:

"I am the Archangel St. Michael.  Anyone who uses
the stones of this grotto will be liberated…"

Needless to say, the prelate followed the Archangel's instructions and the plague soon ceased in the towns around Mt. Gargano.  This miraculous intervention started the tradition of the shrine distributing "St. Michael relic stones", which is still continued today by the Congregation of the Michaelite Fathers who are the present custodians of the holy cave.

Since late 2018 I've obtained several grotto stones, encased in gold-colored metal thecas by the Mt. Gargano Shrine.  I gifted them to loved ones and priest-friends, and kept two for myself; placing one on a home shrine and the other is what I carry with me for physical and spiritual protection whenever I leave my house (a big comfort in this time of pandemic).  It's the stones on the altar that recently manifested unusual phenomenon.

As already mentioned, the St. Michael stones are in golden thecas.  Well, imagine my surprise when I went to pray at my altar and found the theca had turned from gold to silver!  This happened in late September 2020 and I know for sure the theca was gold when I first received it... and it looked the same the last time I saw it just a day or two before.  I did not do anything to change the theca and I was completely perplexed, and I still am... especially because it was followed not long after by that impressive dream of the Archangel; the two events seem closely related.

The theca on the left mysteriously changed from a
golden color to silver, as compared to the theca on the
right, which is what it originally looked like.

Since this occurred, I've often prayed to St. Michael asking him, "Why? Why the color-change? ... because Heaven never gives us signs without a good reason.  So what exactly was the Archangel trying to communicate through these seeming signs, particularly the theca, which is something quite tangible?  I've heard of, and seen, silver-colored sacramentals changing to a gold color, or actual gold (e.g. medals and rosary links) - which would be easier to interpret - but not the other way around.

To date, I haven't received further spiritual experiences in response to my prayers, nor do I expect any... but still - Why, St. Michael?  What's going on that I or the world need to know about?

In my search for a possible answer I recently googled the significance of silver in the Bible and found these passages from the Psalms.  Perhaps they provide a hint of what St. Michael is trying to convey through the sign in silver:

"The promises of the LORD are pure, like silver
refined in a furnace and purified seven times."

‐ Psalm 12:6

"You have tested us, O God.  You have refined
us in the same way silver is refined."

- Psalm 66:10

Interestingly enough, and maybe a bit concerning, both Scriptures have something in common - they speak of the process of silver being "refined"... which, significantly, is another word used for purified or cleansed.  So is the theca's change to silver a symbolic affirmation that the world is currently undergoing a period of intense testing and refining?  Or, is it an indication of a worldwide purification that's still to come?  Or, still, perhaps it's an invitation for just me to continue working on areas in my life that need cleansing?  Whether this little sign is intended to signify refinement, or not, spiritual purification is something worth reflecting on especially during this upcoming Lenten Season.  I do know one thing for certain, though - regardless what, I'm standing with St. Michael.

St. Michael the Archangel, help us
and protect us!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Saint of the Month - February 2021: Venerable Anne de Guigne

Ven. Anne
Ven. Anne de Guigne
Transformed by God's Grace

If you ever questioned whether you could reach a measure of sanctity in your personal life, just keep reading - Anne de Guigne died at the young age of 10-years-old and, yet, she's up for Sainthood... and she didn't start off being a Saint - she was a veritable tyrant of a child, based on what several biographies commonly say.  So who was this Anne and what made her "venerable"?

Anne de Guigne was born on April 25, 1911; the oldest of four children granted to a French count and soldier named Jacques de Guigne and his wife, Antoinette. Up to age four she was described as strong-willed and self-centered, which only grew worse as her siblings arrived one by one. She was simply terrible, at times, and one particular incident gives us a good example of just how bad she could be, prior to her "conversion" - during a temper tantrum triggered by a fit of jealousy over her one and only brother, Anne threw dirt in the toddler's eyes, which must have been extremely painful for the boy!  That's how rotten she was.

But, thankfully, Anne changed... and it happened after the tragic death of her beloved father who was killed in July 2015 during a war between France and Germany. Madame de Guigne was naturally devastated when she got word of her husband's passing and, when Anne attempted to comfort her mother, Antoinette reportedly told the little girl, "If you want to comfort me, you must be good.”  From that moment on, Anne resolved to be a model daughter to her grieving mom.

De Guigne Family
Anne (upper-right), with her brother and sisters.

Anne's transformation was like night and day; almost over night the wolf became a docile lamb... and everyone who knew her noticed it. Not only did her temperament reform but so did her soul. The youngster suddenly exhibited a marked interest in spirituality and began in earnest to please both her mother and Jesus, too!

When the 5-year-old Anne expressed to her mother a desire to make her First Holy Communion, Madame de Guigne immediately enrolled her in catechism classes at a nearby convent. There, the highly precocious child eagerly absorbed what was taught her by the nuns. She advanced with uncommon speed in love of God, love of neighbor, and in personal virtue... and, it appears the Holy Spirit was working in a special way in the girl, as evidenced by some of her recorded sayings:

  • When Anne's grandfather asked her what wheat Hosts become, she replied: "Little Jesus comes and hides Himself in the white Hosts, which become Jesus."
  • To a priest who asked Anne where the Holy Spirit lived, her response was: "In the souls of the Just."
  • Prior to her First Holy Communion, the priest examining Anne asked her, "When does Jesus obey?" to which she gave this remarkable reply: "At Mass... He obeys the priest when he says: ‘This is My Body, this is My Blood.’"

Anne celebrated her First Communion on March 26, 2017 - a month shy of her 6th birthday - and notes she jotted down after the event further speak of the profound depth of her spiritual growth in spite of her young age.  For example:

  • "I will give my sacrifices to Mary, so that She may give them to Jesus."
  • "My Jesus, I love You and to please You, I resolve to obey You always."
  • "My soul is destined for Heaven. People are very preoccupied with their outward appearance and hardly at all with the soul... My soul was made for eternal life, to be infinitely happy or infinitely unhappy.  The good Lord wants it to be eternally happy.  That depends on me alone."

One can also sense in some of Anne's words that she possessed a solid comprehension of self-sacrifice.  She actually developed childhood rheumatism, which caused chronic inflammatory pain in her joints, but she accepted the discomfort without complaint.  Rather, when one of her nun-teachers once asked her what brought her joy, Anne said, "My greatest happiness is to suffer much for our gracious God."

A devotional prayer card with a relic
taken from Anne's clothing.

Furthermore, Anne's love for God motivated in her a desire to not just become saintly for the sake of her own soul, but she also offered many prayers and sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, too... and displayed affection and generosity towards the sick and the needy in an effort to draw them to God.

Now don't think that all of Anne's spiritual progress came easily to her because it didn't - in the beginning she had to fight hard against her selfish inclinations. There were many times she had to bite down on her tongue or clench her fist in silence in order to hold back one of her infamous tantrums... but consistent practice makes perfect and, through sheer will-power mixed with faith, she ultimately succeeded in overcoming the worse of her personality traits.

Towards the end of December 1921, Anne suffered from excruciating headaches, which was diagnosed as being due to Meningitis.  She was taken to bed and lapsed in and out of consciousness.  She was never heard to complain when she was  lucid but rather she stated peacefully: "I wish to offer my sufferings as Jesus did on the Cross."

Anne died on the morning of January 14, 1922. Shortly before her passing, she fixed her gaze at a spot in the room and asked the nun attending her, "Sister, may I go with the angels?" After the nun replied in the affirmative, Anne responded joyfully, "Thank you, Sister.  Oh, thank you."

Anne de Guigne
Little Anne de Guigne, pray for us!

Presently, Anne is a Venerable in the Church and awaits a verified miracle worked through her intercession to be declared a Blessed; a second miracle could make her a Saint.  Her body was also discovered miraculously incorrupt during an exhumation conducted in October 1922.  Let us pray for Anne de Guigne's speedy Canonization.  The world - especially our youth - needs her faith-example.

Anne's Hymn to Mary

Lend Him to me, O Mary, my dear Mother...
lend me your Son, if only for a second.  Place Him in
my humble arms.  Allow me, Mary, to kiss the feet of
your dear Son who has given me so many graces.
How I desire, O Mary, to receive your Son in my
arms, give Him to me, give Him to me!  How happy
I am now for I have Him with me!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...

This morning... right before Mass at St. John Vianney Church, Kailua, I happened upon this beautiful scene. Many say a picture is worth a thousand words... and, there's also a popular lore about finding treasure at the end of a rainbow.  In this photo, both sayings just happen to be true.

Interestingly, since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the priest for this parish has been diligently hearing confessions every Saturday morning out on the lawn behind the pictured shrine.

Confession and the Immaculate Heart of Mary - treasures, indeed!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Monthly Message of the Queen of Peace of Medjugorje: January 25th, 2021

   "Dear children!  I am calling you at this time to prayer, fasting, and renunciation, that you may be stronger in faith.  This is a time of awakening and of giving birth.  As nature, which gives itself, you also, little children, ponder how much you have received. Be joyful bearers of peace and love that it may be good for you on earth.  Yearn for Heaven; and in Heaven there is no sorrow or hatred.  That is why, little children, decide anew for conversion and let holiness begin to reign in your life.  Thank you for having responded to my call."

Monday, January 4, 2021

Apparitions of St. Joseph?

Often enough, these days, we hear of Our Lady appearing somewhere in the world – without a doubt Marian apparitions have dramatically increased in the last century and the Holy Mother’s public apparitions in places such as Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje are familiar to many Catholics… but what about St. Joseph? Well, apparently, he’s appeared, too, on several occasions, for the benefit of God’s people. In fact, his apparitions – usually in the company of his Immaculate Spouse – are seemingly on the increase, leading this author to believe it's St. Joseph’s time to “rise”… and it’s not a farfetched notion in light of how the sacredness and values of the Christian family/household are now being blatantly undermined by a modern society hell-bent on “progress”... but it's all pure insanity!

2021 has been dedicated by the Church
to St. Joseph & the Holy Family!

St. Joseph has long been considered the Patron Saint of the Family by the Church, given how God placed him in the unique and important role as the head and protector of the Holy Family.  This author strongly believes it’s not a coincidence 2021 was declared the Year of St. Joseph and the Holy Family by Pope Francis because the Lord has a way of providentially arranging events... and, at present, our world – our families  urgently needs the faith example, intercession, and paternal protection of this great Saint against the dark forces destroying families.  It’s simply St. Joseph's time.

So in special tribute to the foster father of our Lord, this ministry is pleased to share a few stories of St. Joseph's rare appearances on earth, which readers may find enlightening:

+ COTIGNAC, FRANCE (Church-approved)
On June 7, 1660, atop Mt. Bessillon in the French commune of Cotignac, a 22-year-old youth named, Gaspard Ricard, was herding sheep. It was an extremely hot day and by noon the shepherd had already drank his ration of water when he stopped to rest near a boulder. To his surprise, a tall, stately-looking man appeared out of nowhere, pointed to the large rock and said, “I am Joseph.  Lift the rock and you will have drink.”

Glancing at the nearby boulder, Gaspard was incredulous at seeing how big the rock was and he replied to the Saint that it would be too heavy to lift on his own. In response, St. Joseph only repeated his instruction to “lift the rock” so the young man did as he was told, the second time around, and the boulder easily moved. Where it once rested was revealed fresh, clean water that suddenly began flowing from the spot!  When Gaspard turned to thank the Saint, he had already vanished as mysteriously as he appeared.

Gaspard later reported the apparition and the subsequent discovery of the spring to the townsfolk, which resulted in a spontaneous pilgrimage to Mt. Bessillon.  The water proved to have healing properties as many cures occurred and continue to be reported even to the present time.

Today, a chapel stands at the site of the miraculous fountain of St. Joseph in Cotignac. The water still flows and pilgrims continue to drink of it, along with venerating a hallowed statue of St. Joseph and the Christ Child placed in a niche overlooking the water’s source.

The exterior of the shrine of St. Joseph in Cotignac, France.  The source of the miracle
spring is marked by an engraved stone monument (right).

+ KNOCK, IRELAND (Church-approved)
On the cold and rainy evening of Thursday, August 21, 1879 a group of parishioners reported apparitions at the south-facing gable wall of the parish church of Knock. There were 15 official witnesses to the miracle which was comprised of heavenly figures that included Our Lady, St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, several angels… and a Lamb standing on an altar behind which was a large cross. None of the figures spoke for the two hours they remained visible at the site.

According to the witnesses, the apparitions were life-sized 3 dimensional, living persons (not flat, projected images); all were dressed in white and floating in midair about 2 feet off the ground; a brilliant aura of light enveloped the figures and the gable.  Although the apparition was outdoors and it was raining heavily, all the figures remained completely dry while the visionaries were soaked in the downpour.

St. Joseph’s physical appearance was described as a mature gentleman with “iron-grey whiskers”, who stood to the Blessed Mother’s right, slightly inclined towards her in an attitude of respect.

The chapel of the apparition of Knock.  The original gable stands within the building's
interior with statues representing the holy persons who appeared in 1879. 

Although no verbal message was given at Knock, the prayerful postures of Our Lady and the Saints in worship and intercession before the Lamb of God spoke volumes to the seers!  There was also an apocalyptic tone to this apparition as it bore imagery reminiscent of the Scroll and sacrificial Lamb described in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 5:5 - 14. 

+ FATIMA, PORTUGAL (Church-approved)
There are people who are unaware that St. Joseph also made an appearance during the famed apparitions of Fatima. He appeared during the sixth and final visitation to the shepherd children on October 13th, 1917. This event had already been announced to the visionaries on the previous apparition of September 13th when Our Lady told them, “In October, our Lord will also come, as well as Our Lady of Sorrows and Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, to bless the world.”

Sr. Lucia in her memoirs recorded that St. Joseph appeared next to the sun carrying the Holy Child, with the Blessed Virgin standing beside them. As it was indicated to them, St. Joseph blessed the world by silently tracing the Sign of the Cross, which Jesus also did.  Both did not speak a word.

An artistic rendering of the apparition of the Holy Family at
Fatima during the 6th apparition on October 13th, 1917.

There are Fatima scholars who speculate the blessings bestowed by Jesus and St. Joseph were particularly intended for families, as this apparition was essentially of the Holy Family; perhaps for strength and special protection against challenges that lay ahead for Christian households. It’s a theory supported by a statement quoted from a letter written by Sr. Lucia: "The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family."  Are we, today, at this “final battle”?

+ GHIAIE DI BONATE, ITALY (Unapproved apparitions)
Beginning on May 13, 1944 (the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima), a then 7-year-old girl named Adelaide Roncalli claimed 13 apparitions of Our Lady. Eight of these encounters were actually visits from the Holy Family since they included St. Joseph and the Christ Child. During some of the apparitions, cures occurred and signs in the sky, such as the dancing sun, were witnessed by up to 300,000 spectators - devotees and curiosity seekers, alike! The messages the Virgin delivered were practical lessons for families, which prompted the title “Mary, Queen of the Family”.  Below are a few excerpts from the messages of Ghiaie di Bonate: 

An artistic representation of the alleged child-seer, Adelaide Roncalli, being visited
by the Holy Family. The image on the right depicts another representation of the
Blessed Virgin in one of her apparitions at Ghiaie di Bonate.

  “Prayers and repentance. Pray for the poor stubborn sinners who are dying in this moment and who pierce my Heart.  The prayer I like best is the Hail Mary.”  ~ May 18, 1944 (6th apparition)

  “No, it is not necessary for everybody to come here; those who can afford it may come and they will be healed or remain sick according to their sacrifices, but they must not commit great sins anymore… Meditate upon these words all the days of your life, summon up your courage in all your sorrows.  You will see me again in the hour of your death; I will keep you under my cloak and will take you to Heaven.”   ~ May 19, 1944 (7th apparition)

  “Pray for the stubborn sinners who make my heart suffer because they do not think of death… Peace is coming soon, but I am anxious for that world peace in which everybody loves one another like brothers.”   ~ May 28, 1944 (10th apparition)

  “The sick who want to be healed must trust me more, and sanctify their suffering if they want to earn Paradise.  If they do not do this, they will not be awarded and will be severely punished instead.  I hope that all those who get to know my words will make every kind of effort to earn Paradise.  Those who suffer without complaining will obtain anything they ask from my Son and me.  Pray a lot for those who have a sick soul; my Son Jesus died on the cross to save them.  Many people do not understand these words of mine — that is why I suffer so much.”  ~ May 29, 1944 (11th apparition)

It should be noted these apparitions are not approved by the Church, as of this writing. On April 30, 1948 the then Bishop of Bergamo issued a decree forbidding the spread of any form of devotion to the apparitions of Ghiaie di Bonate. However, in February 2019, the current Bishop issued an updated mandate stating the local church’s commitment “… to authorize, value, and accompany the cult of ‘Mary Queen of the Family’ at the parish chapel”, which negated his predecessor’s 1948 decree, but stopped short at confirming the supernatural character of the apparitions. So today there is a thriving chapel in Ghiaie di Bonate where the Sacraments are allowed to be celebrated and administered to pilgrims who come to pray to the Holy Family, which makes the author comfortable about posting on these events.

There are a few other modern apparitions of St. Joseph that haven’t been included in this post due to some controversial aspects surrounding them, but the above should be sufficient to show that St. Joseph is indeed spiritually active in the Church; working hard alongside his Divine Son and his beloved spouse, Mary, to bring souls to salvation.

And of course there are the countless Saints throughout history to whom St. Joseph privately appeared to or miraculously aided in order to encourage their personal quests for sanctity. These include St. Andre Bessette of Montreal, St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal of India, St. Gertrude the Great, St. Junipero Serra, Bl. Maria Repetto, and St. Teresa of Avila, just to name a few.  These Saints, along with countless other devotees of St. Joseph have received abundant graces and favors through their Patron, which is why the Church, for centuries, has recommended to the Faithful...

I T E  A D  J O S E P H !
(Go to Joseph)

If you haven't already done so, let 2021 be the opportunity for you to go to this Saint for blessings in your life. If God can entrust his only begotten Son and the Holy Virgin to the care of this man, we can confidently entrust ourselves to St. Joseph's care, too.

St. Joseph, protector of the Church
and families, pray for us!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Saint of the Month - January 2021: Blessed Stefana de Quinzanis

Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis
A Light of Dominican Spirituality ~ Memorial: January 3rd

Happy New Year!  This ministry opens its 2021 roster of monthly Saints/Blesseds with the story of another amazing, yet obscure, holy woman - Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis - an Italian mystic affiliated with the Dominican Order.  She was born on February 5, 1457 in the peasant village of Quinzano d'Oglio where she was curiously described by one biographer as being rather homely in appearance but admired for possessing beautiful, luxurious hair; locks she later shaved when she realized they attracted unwanted attention.

At just 7, our protagonist experienced her very first contact with Heaven after she was inspired to pronounce a private vow of poverty, obedience, and perpetual chastity in total dedication of herself to God.  Jesus came to Stefana accompanied by Our Lady and a trio of Dominican Saints: St. Dominic de Guzman (d. 1221), St. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), and St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380) to place a wedding ring on the precocious youngster's finger as a symbol of his pleasure and acceptance of her selfless offering - a Mystical Betrothal.

Also in her childhood, the Beata had the privilege of being spiritually guided by the saintly Dominican priest, Bl. Matteo Carreri (d. 1470), who bore the stigmatic wound of the chest/heart... and predicted to Stefana that she, too, would one day be like him; marked with wounds of Divine Love.  Not long after, the little mystic received another vision of St. Dominic, the illustrious founder of the Dominican Order, who along with a group of angels, vested her in the black and white Dominican habit.  Prior to then Stephana had been employed as a domestic servant, but at 15-years-old her vision was realized when she was accepted into the Dominican Third Order in Crema, and clothed in the same habit given her by St. Dominic.

A stigmatic priest, Bl. Matteo Carreri, was a spiritual mentor
to Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis.

It should be noted that Stefana also maintained a lifelong devotion to St. Catherine of Siena, who she looked upon as a pinnacle of Dominican piety. She imitated the Saint's virtues and ascetic practices (e.g. extreme fasting), and began experiencing similar graces as her Sienese role model.  An example would be the "wounds" already mentioned - St. Catherine bore the Stigmata of Christ invisibly, but in Stefana's case, the wounds were quite visible and bled after she received them at aged 14 from a vision of Bl. Matteo Carreri, who had just died.  Hence, for the following forty years, she relived the painful drama of the Passion every Friday, while in ecstasy, which was attested to by many witnesses, including prominent nobles.  Another grace she had in common with St. Catherine was the "mystical exchange of hearts" during which Jesus took away her heart only to replace it with his very own, burning with love... and lastly, the abilities to heal and know hidden and future events were other favors bestowed on Stefana by our Lord.

Not surprisingly, because of the visible nature of her stigmata and other charismatic gifts, Stefana became a sought-after counselor in northern Italy. Among those who came to her for advice were peasants, prelates, nobility, and other holy people of her time such as her fellow Dominican, Bl. Osanna of Mantua (d. 1505) and St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines (d. 1540).  Her gift of infused knowledge served her well since she was able to dispense wise counsel, and expertly discuss lofty theological topics with the most learned Church officials. 

Bl. Stefana received visits from the inhabitants of
Heaven, including angels.

After ministering for a time in Crema, Stefana was divinely prompted to found a monastery of Third Order Dominicans in Soncino, dedicated to St. Paul, where she was nominated to the office of Prioress.  It was reported that Jesus, out of gratitude for all her works and sacrifices, once said to her, "Daughter, you have given me the total gift of your will - what reward would you desire?" to which the Beata admirably replied, "I want no other reward than yourself."

Bl. Stefana de Quinzanis passed onto her Eternal Reward on January 2, 1530, at the age of 72; a long life lived in the service of others and expiatory suffering.  Ever in deep union with her Divine Spouse, her final recorded words were, "Into thy hands, Lord, I commend my spirit".  Immediately, her tomb became a place of pilgrimage where many cures were reported.  The locals held her memory in such deep, lasting reverence it led Pope Benedict XIV to confirm her cultus on December 14, 1740; thus, officially placing her among the ranks of the recognized Blesseds of the Church.  Just one more verified miracle is needed to advance her Cause to Sainthood.

The bodily relics of the Beata, as venerated in
 Soncino, Italy.

If you, the reader, was positively impressed in any way after reading the life of Bl. Stefana, take a moment to join this ministry in praying for her speedy Canonization.  Ask her intercession, too, for a special favor or petition!  May she pray for our needs and the needs of the Universal Church.